The Four Hour Work Week Review
The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss has gained a cult following among nine to five escapers everywhere since its release back in 2007. Ferriss is an Entrepreneur, writer and nothing short of a campaigner for the right to not work a nine to five work week.
I had intended to read the book for some time now, and had already taken time to check out Tim’s blog and some interviews on Youtube. I knew already that I liked the themes and morals that Tim advocates and makes a point of writing about, but I wasn’t sure that the book itself would be able to grip me for almost 400 pages. How wrong I was. Tim writes with a verve and sense of humour that had me laughing out loud, allowing him to convey his serious points in a laid back manner, his writings are less “DO AS I SAY TO IMPROVE YOUR LIFE” and more “here’s how I did it, here are some myths about work, here is a funny anecdote and here are a few brilliantly selected quotes to get your heart racing”.
Ferriss talks in the book about how he went from a high-pressure office job to how he started his own businesses and automated, outsourced and trimmed the proverbial fat to create routines that allow him to be anywhere in the world and still run his companies with just a few hours of decisions and communication each week. This is not a rags-to-riches, “anyone can do it”, self help book about an idealistic or unattainable lifestyle, it is a genuine assessment of a dying nine to five lifestyle that just isn’t required in the 21st century. Tim talks about the “New Rich”, and the difference between being wealthy in the 21st and 20th centuries. Undeniably, we are in the mobile age, and this book collates and reviews loads of amazing tools for making yourself mobile and streamlined, “Lifestyle Design” as he calls it.
Tim talks about his failures too, and inspires with his tales of mistakes past and present, making his writing hugely accessible and enjoyable at the same time. He focuses not on cheesy “get rich quick” or “become a world renowned entrepreneur” stories, but on attaining the lifestyle you want for yourself in a realistic way. In one part of the book he lists all of the places you can visit, stay and live comfortably for less money than the rent he was paying back in the US, an inspiring and fresh outlook on making a living and exploring the world.
FHWW has not been met with such good spirit in all corners of the globe, though. Seth Godin famously criticised the book, and made some valid points too. Tim didn’t sell me the idea of a “four hour work week” as such, he sold me the idea of liberation, trimming the fat, and focusing on the correct priorities, as well as some interesting views on outsourcing and automation. Seth Godin is someone I find it painstaking to disagree with, and I don’t necessarily disagree. I have heard arguments that Ferriss is somehow exploiting and making money out of people’s dreams of an easier life, which I disagree with. Did I read Tims book feeling like I wanted to cop out of work and only work four hours a week? No. Did I read his book and feel inspired to simplify, diversify, automate, travel and become more mobile? 100% – take the title with a pinch of salt. Tim writes intelligently about Pareto’s 80/20 principal, “work for work’s sake”, getting things done in the modern working world and finding time to travel.
The book is not just for wannabe explorers and globe-trotters, though, and centres around the principal of wasted time and “work for work’s sake”. Tim makes his points brilliantly too, and proves in his current editions of the book that he has indeed helped people to achieve the goals he discusses with a series of brilliant and diverse case studies.
The Four Hour Work Week is an absolute must-read for anybody who has, or is aspiring to, escape the nine to five and set themselves free. Lifestyle design is here, and Ferriss is leading the way. (Sorry Seth).